Regular readers know that your humble and obedient servant has been a site contributor for the better part of two years: passing along news, defiling the game-scape with self-indulgent humor, and engaging in what media professionals call “attempted commentary.” Yet as per our newfangled bios – providing evidence that we are living, breathing flesh-things, and not some elaborate sub-programs of “NewsBot X22AF” – yours truly is, and as long as lady-lumps remain on the forefront of loveliness, a straight man.
So why even bother bringing it up? The short answer is that despite feeling that I’m helping to do my bit – writing for GayGamer.net, and generally contributing to the gaymer community has been a point of pride – giving the “ally” perspective it something that I’ve long meant to do. The long answer is that Minnesota’s most prominent figureheads in the gay marriage debate are Chris Kluwe and Michelle Bachmann. Thus, I’ve decided (in an appalling display of presumptuousness), to serve as the state’s official tiebreaker. Moreover, there is the issue that despite the hope that we nerds have some kind of innate bond that transcends such small-mindedness – fellow sailors on the S.S. Geekery and all – anti-GLBT harassment persists. Whether from forum-dwellers, multiplayer chat, or the great case for eugenics that is the YouTube comments section, we’ve all seen the work of online homophobes – callow and hiding behind the veil of anonymity as they do – that has simply become a fact of our online lives.
In a broader sense, I have it easy. I’ve never had the misfortune of slurs uttered simply because of who I am, or feel the need to wrap myself in a shroud of repression – as those in the closet invariably do – for fear of others’ judgements. I will never feel the sting of knowing that what I might ultimately seek in a relationship – the lifelong commitment of marriage – can never be realized, because of time-honored bigotry.
Truth be told, I’ve never quite understood homophobia. During my time in what I affectionately call “Jesus School,” anti-gay attitudes were simply part of the theology. We were taught that gays and lesbians were going to hell – living their lives “in perpetual, unrepentant sin,” to paraphrase a quote from one of my teachers – and that their “lifestyle choice” spat in the face of God’s design. Yet it never clicked with me. Part of it was, undoubtedly, being the lone atheist – favoring reason over dogma – and never quite grasping the consistency of focusing on one part of the existential nightmare that is Levitical Law, while ignoring its more, shall we say, “unsavory” aspects. Mainly, it was the disproportionately massive damn given over what I considered to be a non-issue.
Still, for all forces of hate are able to marshal, there are encouraging signs. GLBT issues have made their way into television and film – the latter inviting criticism (from America’s cantankerous granddad) for “humanizing” homosexuality – while the digital realm has made some headway: Shepherd’s sexuality in the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age, and the Fable series are particularly well-noted. The culmination of media exposure holds promise, and slowly, GLBT folk are being demystified: the dread specter of gaydom beginning to fade, rather unimpressively, into the mist.
“Tradition” can only provide so much inertia for bigotry, and in time, homophobia will find itself pushed to the fringe – that no man’s land reserved for hillbillies and racist grandparents – where it always belonged. Indeed, the zeitgeist is already shifting: whether growing acceptance of gay marriage from the public, conservative politicians beginning to break the mold, or even support from religious leaders – including one of my favorite bits of video in the history of the internet.
Indeed, despite the rhetoric about gay rights undermining America – a task previously reserved for suffragists, integrationists, and Catholics – the national pendulum is slowly swinging toward the side of sanity. Yet with obnoxious regularity, resistance to national progress is said to find its roots in the fabled “mainstream.” We’re getting there, but in order to bring the fulfillment of said rights, we allies need to become the mainstream. For me, the most potent images came not from the oft-quoted speeches of King and his peers, nor even the more iconic acts of civil disobedience. Rather, it was the heartening images of blacks and whites, marching arm-in-arm for the cause of good: one that invited accusations of radicalism and social heresy from the reactionaries of that era, but ultimately prevailed to such a degree, that even the most strident elements of today’s mainstream conservatism dare not speak against its victories. In time, homophobia will find itself as a rather embrarassing footnote in American history: a cause led less by true moralists, and more by those who, in times past, waxed poetic about the evils of race-mixing.
Really, my lady-fancying peers, things will be all right. There are real national issues on the agenda: crime, poverty, healthcare, and if we see fit to venture into the whimsical world of weird, the question of whether we should take seriously that a pygmy with a God complex might be able to shoot a rocket more than fifty feet off his coast, before the entire thing disintegrates under the pressure of slipshod engineering. Preventing gays and lesbians from enjoying equal legal status is not one of them. Progress is coming, and when it finds itself realized, the phantom of moral armageddon will be revealed as nothing more than that: a phantom. The Cities of Man shall remain undestroyed, and the “giant, man-eating wasp” population will continue to stand at a rather disappointing zero. Lord Lucifer will fail to emerge from a plume of glitter and spread his rainbow wings, kissing humanity into submission before retiring to a comfortable vantage point – seated upon a throne of sexy pool boys – as civilization tears itself apart through unbridled carnality.
In the meantime, we wait. Those of us on the more sane end of the political spectrum rub our temples and issue tired sighs, while those affected bear the brunt of the ongoing “debate” over gay rights. Yet with sufficient action, the faceless many – GLBT and allies alike – can bring it to fruition. Every figurehead stands on the shoulders of his or her supporters, and each orator – however passionate and eloquent his or her words might sound – emerges from the dissonant hum of voices innumerable. As small and inconsequential our respective efforts might seem – those isolated acts of support – they represent the building blocks of something larger: a movement that has the power to raise the collective consciousness. Video games may seem trivial – almost inconsequential – but the neccesity of representation, as well as the snuffing out of bigotry, needs to come from all corners. Whether it’s raising one’s voice, or simply supporting pro-GLBT gatherings like GaymerX, each little step is one in the right direction: helping to forge a future in which all, regardless of sexual orientation,are entitled to the same basic freedoms.